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108th Coptic patriarch of Egypt serving from 1796 to 1809.

The papacy of Mark VIII is remembered more for the great historic event that occurred during his tenurethe Napoleonic expedition to Egypt (17981801)than for his accomplishments. The prosperity enjoyed by the Coptic laity throughout Mark's career resulted from individual ambition not from the patriarch's initiative. Even construction of the Cathedral of St. Mark (dedicated to the archbishop's namesake) at al-Azbakiyya was the work of two influential citizens, not the patriarch.

Likewise, a Coptic military unit was more effective than Mark in dealing with Muslim tensions. Under the French, many Copts held high political and military positions and were handsomely rewarded for their loyalty. The Islamic majority could not tolerate the double disgrace of so many European Christians descending upon Egypt and their subsequent favoritism shown not only to the Copts but also to all other non-Muslims living in Cairo (Syrians, Greeks, and Jews). Several brutal assaults on the Copts in Cairo occurred during the French occupation and even thereafter. The famous Coptic Legion commanded by the illustrious General Yaʿqub was created to counter this persecution.

In spiritual matters Mark achieved some distinction. He maintained an active correspondence with the Coptic parishes throughout Egypt and sent an important pastoral letter to Ethiopia. Because the church of St. Mark in "Babylon," the Coptic quarter of Cairo, had been destroyed during the Islamic rampages, the patriarch built a new church dedicated to his namesake.

see also copts.

donald spanel